By Suzanne Basra, Content & Internal Communications Manager at Ogilvy UK
Recently, Ogilvy, Wavemaker and World Afro Day pioneered a new awareness campaign ‘Change the Facts, Not the Fro’ which launched for World Afro Day 2018, an annual event launched by Michelle De Leon which aims to help change the narrative around natural Afro hair.
Following the launch of the work, we caught up with Charlotte Mensah who was the lead hair stylist on the campaign. Charlotte has been at the forefront of the natural haircare movement since the early 2000 and has been a columnist on the subject since 2005.
She is recognised as the Go To authority regarding maintaining Natural Afro, Mixed & Curly textures by magazines such as Elle, Vogue, Harpers Bizarre and Tatler to name a few. She was recently crowned ‘Afro Hairdresser of the Year’ for the 3rd time at the British Hairdressing Awards and now enters their Hall of Fame.
What was the biggest reason you came on board for the World Afro Day campaign?
As reigning British Afro Hairdresser of the year, it’s extremely important that I support and back the message of us all celebrating our hair in all its diverse textures.
You started training for your craft in the 1980s. How has the landscape and perception around hair changed since then?
Today’s hairdressing is not about chemical service, clients want to fall in love with their God given textures with the opportunity of discovering different styles, trends and new technology. Afro hairdressing has become a type of science, with many people searching for a professional who can provide them with unique styles.
What would you consider to be the biggest turning point in your career to date?
Winning my very first BHA, and becoming an ambassador for Afro Hair. This has raised my profile not only in the UK, but also overseas. Another large turning point was the launch of mt Manketti Oil hair care range, which took me six years of research and dedication to make sure it was perfect.
You’ve been an authority on natural hair for a number of years now. Combined with your industry commentary and the people you style, how have trends around styling afro hair evolved?
More and more women are embracing the wondrous textures of their hair, and celebrating its versatility with bodacious fro's, beautiful braids, tempting twists, and luxurious locks. My styling philosophy is that I’m an artist and hair is my canvas, i always want to create an outward beauty that reflects the person’s inner beauty.
While enjoying huge success in styling, you’ve also done a fair amount of charitable work. How did these projects come about?
After traveling around parts of Africa training young hairstylists, I was shocked to witness the lack of knowledge and education regarding hair health, but a true hunger to learn.
I setup my charity LOVE named after my late mum, who was extremely generous and loving. This charity is a platform offering both vocational and educational opportunities for young people in Africa.
We currently work alongside a number of partners, helping these young people build better lives for both themselves and their families.
What do you hope will result from the World Afro Day campaign?
Having Oglivy behind this powerful campaign has shown me that times truly are changing.
The natural hair movement is alive and growing, but still needs to be the norm and not just a specialist campaign. The more we portray positive women of all ages to embrace their god given textures, the more accepting Afro hair will be, especially in the workplace.
This will hopefully help the next generation enjoy the beauty of expressing themselves through their hair.
Take a look at our work for World Afro Day here.